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Unit 14 Modern Human Variability

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ARCH 131
Dennis Sandgathe

14.1 Modern Human Variability November-29-11 2:48 PM • The historical view was to create discrete and distinct categories: "Race" ○ C. Linnaeus (mid-1700s)was perhaps the first to try to classify modern humans systematically ○ Races were thought to reflect differences in personality and cognitive abilities, etc. ○ Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (German anatomist late 1700sto early 1800s) ▪ Mainly on the basis of cranial shape, he recognized five races □ Mongolian, American, Caucasian, African, Malayan ▪ He didn't differentiate the categories the same way Linnaeus did ○ Anders Retzius (1840s)developedthe Cephalic Index ▪ Cephalic index = breadth of skull divided by length of skull X100 □ <75 =dolicocephalic □ 75-79.9 =mesocephalic □ 80-84.9 = -4.9 brachycephalic □ >85 = hyperbrachycephalic ○ Carleton Coon may have originated the most recent version of five races: ▪ Caucasoid, Mongoloid,Australoid, Negroid, Capoid ○ Social Evolution: the misconceptionthat cultures evolvelike organisms and that this evolutionis moving towards more advanced forms ▪ This led to the concept of biological determinism: Cultural variability was seen as biologically determined, and thereforeinherited in the same way that physical characteristics were ▪ The idea that people of visibly different geographic origin have intrinsic, biologically determined differences in behaviour and intelligence is known as racism ▪ This belief in superiority and inferiority among humans led to eugenics movementsin many Western countries. • Race and Intelligence ○ The most damaging misconceptionthat has accompanied racial views is that "races" differ in cognitive abilities ▪ Example: 1994 book "The Bell Curve" ▪ There is no reliable evidence to suggest that intelligence varies with skin colour or geographic origin at all • The concept of Race today ○ Race = geographic region? Culture or nationality? Religious affiliation? ○ The most commonand prevalent use is in the biological sense. "Race" = visible physical distinctions associatedwith broad geographic regions ○ The Problem with the Normative View ▪ The normativeview is that items or membersof different groups are presumed to be characterized by discrete traits and can be easily divided into discrete categories. ▪ Anthropologists were seeing continuous (not discrete) distributions of traits across "racial" boundaries and geographic regions ▪ All the traits we can see (as well as genetic traits that are not visible) which have been used to differentiate "races" have a clinal distribution ▪ Most traits are polygenic: they are controlled by multiple genes ▪ Most traits are also polymorphic: there are more than two different genotypes (more than 2 alleles for each trait) • DNA and Race ○ There is more variability within any one geographic population than there is between any of them them ○ Individuals with a commongeographic ancestry will share some characteristicsthat may visibly distinguish them from individuals from other geographic regions
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